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Lead pair of Ek Villain, Sidharth Malhotra and Shraddha Kapoor, in conversation with team Box Office India

Box Office India (BOI): How did Ek Villain begin for both of you?

Shraddha Kapoor (SK): For me, it began during Aashiqui 2. I overheard Mohit (Suri) talking about making his next film, saying he was writing a film called Ek Villain. I sent him feelers about wanting to work in it because I have been a Mohit Suri fan all my life and he leads the pack of directors I want to work with. So I prayed really hard that he would come to me with Ek Villain and, one day, he called for something else and casually asked, ‘Tu meri agli picture karegi?’ I thought I would faint when I heard that. He said, ‘Tell me when you’re free and I will give you a narration.’ The next day, he came to my home and, as he was about to start the narration, I told him I didn’t need one and that I would do the film. He replied, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to even listen to it?’ I said, ‘No, I will do the film anyway.’

BOI: Did you ask him whether you would be the solo female lead?

Sidharth Malhotra (SM): Or she would have found out later that there were three other actresses in the film! (Laughs)

SK: (Laughs) No, I knew Mohit would give me something special. It was a different thing that once he told me about my character, I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is tough! How am I going to do it?’ It was a big challenge. This character was very different from Aarohi from our previous film Aashiqui 2. This girl was, like, blah blah blah, round the clock!

BOI: Like Aarohi, this character’s name begins with ‘A’ – Aisha. Is that lucky for both you and Mohit? Aashiqui too began with ‘A’?

SK: Yeah, Aashiqui, Aarohi and now Aisha… all As… I don’t know, let’s hope it works.

BOI: Perhaps Mohit should have named the film Akela Villain.

SK: (Laughs) …or Aakhri Villain.

BOI: How did it begin for you, Sidharth?

SM: It began after Student Of The Year (SOTY). I had met Tanuj (Garg) of Balaji quite by chance in Bandra. Mohit was shooting Aashiqui 2 then. I saw him in shorts, all tired, as he had just come from the shoot. He spoke to me and I wondered how one could have a love story about a dark and aggressive person. He obviously wanted to get to know me better because he had not seen SOTY. We talked for an hour. We hung out once more and we met twice more. Hats off to his instincts and perhaps there was a likeability factor because I didn’t have to audition. He told me to listen to the narration and I found it very interesting. I also figured that if I didn’t say yes to this film, I wouldn’t get a chance to do a film like this for the next couple of years.

SK: A role like this?

SM: Yeah, this kind of role, and Milap Zaveri gave me a narration at Balaji.

BOI: Milap too must have worn shorts during the narration.

SM: (Laughs) Yeah. And he was quite excited about KRK’s role. KRK also features in the film and Milap ne yeh role apne tan, man aur usse likha hai. He had memorised all the lines of Brajesh, KRK’s character. It was great to play a role with such great content and a character that was very different from the one in Hasee Toh Phasee. This character had more man energy, was slightly more aggressive, very dark and never really happy. He is always upset and very intense. I had never done a role like that before. I had seen Mohit’s films Awarapan and Aashiqui 2 and I really liked them. This film is a little similar to Awarapan in terms of Emraan Hashmi’s character. There are a few similarities but this film has been made on a much larger scale. There are more thrills and there’s more mystery.

BOI: Speaking of SOTY… Your co-stars in that film, Alia Bhatt opted for Highway; Varun Dhawan did commercial films till Sriram Raghavan’s film; and you chose a not-so-routine love story in Hasee Toh Phasee before EK Villain. Why is that?

SM: I wanted to do something different from my last film.

BOI: Different in terms of co-stars or stories?

SM: (Laughs) I had to do something different from Hasee Toh Phasee and luckily this movie came to me when I was still doing that film. So I knew my line-up. Usually, it doesn’t turn out that way. You don’t know what you’re going to sign next so you can’t really plan. You require a certain experience to pull off action like that or intensity like that. Sometimes, the audience prefers a seasoned actor for a role like this, not a young actor.

SK: On the contrary, there are so many films that feature established actors that the audience is dying to watch young actors play characters like these. The audience craves freshness. Besides, if somebody who is known to be a commercial actor plays a bad guy… you have to take that risk.

SM: I think that’s the USP of this film. It’s the same for the three of us – for Shraddha to play this chirpy girl after Aashiqui 2 and for Riteish (Deshmukh) to play this role. The cast is so interesting that you will can’t rely on preconceived notions about how we will behave. Mohit has used this to his advantage, that any one of us can be good or bad or altogether something else. I think that will make the film fresh to watch because we have never seen these actors play the characters they essay here.

BOI: Shraddha, you are working only with new actors.

SK: (Laughs) What can I do? And I know why you are asking me this. And, no, you’re not going to get any masala from me. I am dying to do a movie with Shah Rukh Khan because I love him, and Aamir (Khan) and Farhan (Akhtar), after I watched Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. But we are the new lot and have to make the best of the opportunities we get.

BOI: Both of you mentioned that your roles were challenging. What kind of preparation did you do?

SM: I wanted a different look in the film. I asked Mohit if I could cut my hair. I have two looks in the film – one where I am wearing a patch and the other where I have a haircut. There is also a different hair colour. I also wanted a scar. I have tattoos all over. Mohit was surprised that I was so enthusiastic about my character’s hair and look.

SK: And they also don’t think about these things very much.

SM: In Mohit’s film Awarapan, Emraan Hashmi did not have a special look. He just grew his hair for that film.

BOI: And a band in his hand…

SM: Yeah, but they never thought of tattoos and the like. The idea was to stand out and be unique. So, for instance, visually aapko lage while flipping channels, the moment you see me, you should connect that I am from Ek Villain. Visually, even the styling was very different. We wore cargoes and kurtas to get the Goa vibe. And to practice for our characters, we did workshops with Mukesh Chhabra.

BOI: ‘The Mukesh Chhabra’

Together: Yessss! The Mukesh Chhabra!

SM: (Laughs) Yes, ‘The Mukesh Chhabra’. I think he is a great guy and he has great energy. I think Mohit worked with him in Aashiqui 2 and I think Shraddha has known him for a long time.

SK: Yes, I know him from Teen Patti. After that, we started doing workshops together. We actually started our journey together. (Laughs)

SM: That was the ice-breaker for all of us. Shaad (Randhawa), Shraddha and I used to attend workshops together but Mohit was not part of them. As far as the character is concerned, Mohit had certain things he knew he wanted. You have a bad past, angst, and you never forget that. You never get attracted to a girl, you don’t say hello to any girl. It is never casual.

SK: And I am the exact opposite. My character talks all the time! Our characters are polar opposites. It is really important to have the right look because you want you’re the look to make the right impact, visually too. That was required for my character. So I put blond color in my hair, I ride a Bullet, which shows my character is well travelled. And there’s a reason behind everything not just because bike de do ladki cool lagegi. There is a reason why she has travelled to so many places, why she rides a bike. Why does she want to experience all these things? There is a story behind my nose ring, hair colour and tattoo; there is a story behind my casual appearance.

BOI: Too many stories in one story…

SK: (Laughs) Every story has a sub-story.

BOI: When you look at Mohit Suri’s filmography, you will notice that all the actresses in his films are talkative and bubbly and the guys are intense.

SK: (Cuts in) Not always. In Aashiqui 2, my character was quiet. But, yes, the guys are always intense and dark. They have that Mohit Suri touch. He focuses a lot on the depth and angst of the male character. He loves it.

SM: He likes it but in Ek Villain, there are many new characters, including what Riteish is doing. In the previous film, the action was more muted. This film is high on action; there is far more drama; there’s a lot more happening; and it’s far more brutal. There’s a lot of beating and punching. But it’s not the kind of film where one, larger-than-life character beats up everyone; it’s one-on-one action. Of course, both the characters, Riteish’s and mine, are silent and are filled with angst.

BOI: Also, in the promo, there’s a line that goes… ‘main tujhe marne nahi dunga, lekin main tujhe roz maarunga.’ Why?

SM: That’s the negative side of both our characters. Both Riteish and I have a negative past.

BOI: That’s why there’s a line that goes… ‘Tera past wapas aaya hai’?

SM: Yes. They are both negative characters but different personalities. Ritesh is unique and has more angst. It’s about how these two negative characters get together, and about this character who is physically more powerful, which is my character, would want to punish the other one. That’s where that line fits… ‘ki main tujhe marne nahi doonga, lekin main tujhe roz maaroonga.’

BOI: Shraddha seems to be the only positive character in the film. Do you also have a past in the film?

SK: Yes, I do. But I have a very different kind of past than these two baddies. But it’s an interesting story. So, you see, story pe story.

BOI: Again?

SK: (Laughs) Yeah, really.

SM: There is a lot of cutting back and forth. Two parallel stories… that’s the narrative of the film. It helps to pack in a lot of stuff. It’s a very interesting narrative.

BOI: Since there are so many stories in one story, do you think writers Tushar Hiranandani and Milap Zaveri were paid more than you guys?

SM: (Laughs) I am sure Tushar was! Tushar is an in-house writer of Balaji, uski demand zyada hai. Hats off to Tushar. He was on the sets every day; he sat next to Mohit; and offered inputs on what else we could incorporate while shooting. I have seen dialogue writers on the sets and making changes but it was the first time I saw a writer take so much interest. He was very committed and was on the sets at six in the morning. He has mainly written comedy and this type of film was a first for him. It was a first for us actors as well as the technicians. Mohit Suri is the only one used to this dark, bad world.

BOI: Can you share some interesting anecdotes from the shoot?

SM: When you say ‘interesting anecdotes…’ her bike riding skills come to mind. Jo kisse aapne sune hai woh itne bhi cool nahi hai.

SK: (Cuts in) Cool nahi hai?

SM: She learnt well but when she used to get excited, we used to get scared, inke pao nahi pahuchte the niche zameen pe.

SK: I am very good at riding a bike.

SM: We were planning woh bachchon ke cycles pe hota hai na side stand woh lagwa de. She was riding a Bullet and she couldn’t rest her feet on the ground! (Laughs)

SK: Everyone thought I would not be able to ride the bike because I am short. But let me tell you, short girls are actually stronger than tall girls. Of course, someone used to sit behind me while I rode the bike.

SM: My toughest action sequence was when I had to click a selfie while she was riding the bike. I had to pray and click quickly! (Laughs)

SK: Yeah, I was riding the bike with a smile on my face but the moment I exited the frame, my bike would skid. During the last day, last shot, I injured myself very badly.

SM: Thankfully, I was not riding pillion with her on that day, I was riding a jeep.

SK: There is this crazy action sequence and I went crazy when I saw the shot. I wasn’t present on the day of the shoot, and since I love action, Mohit told me he had shot this crazy action sequence. It’s just one take where he is beating up people and breaking things. And it was one long take. How long was that one take?

BOI: The boat action sequence?

SM: Yes, we shot that in Goa.

SK: And it goes on and on. He’s beating up people, dropping things… you need that kind of energy. The choreography and synchronisation was amazing.

SM: It was like a dance. We did it like a song and it was shot in an old shipwreck. It was this huge ship and I climb in from one corner. I keep walking and people keep coming in, and I fight them. We choreographed the entire sequence… how I get from point A to point B while clearing all the obstacles in my way. It was a tough sequence because if you make one mistake, the entire sequence would have to be shot all over again. That happened a couple of time.

BOI: Shraddha, you also sung for the film. What was that like?

SK: It was superb. After begging him during Aashiqui 2, Mohit finally gave me the chance. In much the same way that he had said, ‘Meri picture mein kaam karegi?’ he said, ‘Meri picture mein gaana gayegi?’ Once again, I was speechless. He said come to the studio; I want you to sing the female version of Galliyan. We wrapped the song in the studio in an hour and a half.

SM: She even sang live for the concert we had for the film.

SK: Yes, I sang live. It was such an amazing high. I hope to keep doing this in the other films I do.

BOI: Was it the most difficult film you’ve done, Sidharth?

SM: Yes, so far. Physically and emotionally, it was like therapy. It would drain me. I have never screamed and shouted like this before… and the aggression. I used to do push-ups before takes to get pumped up and get my adrenaline going. All the wrath of my 29 years emerged. Yes, it was by far the most challenging role I’ve played.

BOI: Shraddha, you had a monster hit in Aashiqui 2, and being a love story the focus was on you. Were you apprehensive that since there are two male protagonists who clash with each other in this film, the focus wouldn’t be on you?

SK: This is a romantic film, and in a Mohit Suri film, you can’t ignore the love element. Every character is motivated by love or something to do with love.

SM: (Cuts in) Her character is a very important link in the story.

SK: I am the driving force behind a lot of things in the film. It is a love story with a thriller element.

BOI: Sidharth, how good is Shraddha’s performance in the film?

SM: Shraddha is very cute in the film. She has to be, as the character demands this of her. She is the only lighter character in the film.

SK: In the film, I keep saying, ‘Ek joke boloon’, and I keep cracking jokes. That’s how my character is. There’s a reason why my character is like that. (Laughs)

BOI: And, Shraddha, how good is Sidharth in the movie?

SM: (Cuts in) Well, Shraddha was amazing in the movie and the layers of story over story that her character has, speaks for everything she does. Now Shraddha, you can speak. (Laughs)

BOI: OK, Shraddha how good was he in SOTY, then Hasee Toh Phasee, and now Ek Villain. Can you review his career?

SK: I loved him in Hasee Toh Phasee. Sometimes, an actor plays a role exactly as the character is defined. But the way he portrayed that character was exceptional. I believe he enhanced the character with the way he played it. As for Ek Villain, he is unbelievable. After a really long time, you are going to see a young actor who embodies emotional angst. He has brought it out very well.

BOI: And what about SOTY? Do you think he has evolved as an actor?

SK: I think the two roles are very different, so you can’t actually say he has evolved. In his first film, he had to play that Kukkad. (Laughs)

SM: What was Varun (Dhawan) in the film?

SK: I don’t know. He was, like, ‘tumne meri parking mein apni bike kyu dali hai.’ But I really think in Hasee Toh Phasee, and especially Ek Villain, he has essayed his characters’ roles very well.

BOI: Now that you are promoting the film, what has the response been like to the trailers and the songs?

SM: The response has been very overwhelming. For instance, at the concert we had for the promotions, people were already singing the songs and they knew the lyrics. You could literally feel the excitement. When I go to the gym or out dining, people know about Ek Villain, which was not the case with Hasee Toh Phasee. So I think this film has a wider reach because of the songs as they have a massy appeal. I think this film will also open up a completely new market, which I never had before.

BOI: And the response from the industry?

SM: Everyone is excited, like at Dharma, everyone is waiting for the film. And at Karan’s (Johar) birthday party too, we received a good response.

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